Don’t be that guy

We needed a design for a t-shirt, and we needed it fast.

It’s early 1995 at Trilogy, a 90-person enterprise software company. I’m in product marketing for Conquer (a new initiative which got renamed the slightly less hubristic “”). We had just made a snap decision to buy a booth at a conference that was literally about to happen. We needed swag.

So I trot over to Jeremy Epstein, our talented HCI/UI designer.

“I need a t-shirt design.”

“… what?” [Jeremy, looking up from something no doubt important]

“I need a t-shirt design for this conference.”

“What conference? Which product? I’ve got a huge list of things to do. Why are you bothering me?”

“It needs to be awesome and cool. But don’t worry, this won’t take long. Actually, we’ve got about 15 minutes before I have to get it to the printers.”

Every profession has their version of “the look”. Programmers wear it when someone says, “stupid vanity feature X won’t take any time to code, right?” I was getting the designer version.

To Jeremy’s credit, he rolled with it. He just happen to roll with it while dripping with sarcasm for our lack of preparedness, lead time, or thought.

“Riiiggghhhttt… awesome and cool. Check. 15 minutes. Check.”

What happened over the next 2 minutes was my first lesson in the power of Photoshop filters to, well, to create a giant purple globe ball thing full of spaghetti lightning.

“Here. Now go away.”

We made the t-shirts. We made the conference.

I had a purple spaghetti lightning ball t-shirt in my drawer for years.

Good visual design takes time and thought and iteration. It doesn’t spring out of designers’ heads like thought bubbles.

Sometimes there are fire drills that simply cannot be avoided, but I do my best not to be that guy.

Unless you actually want a photoshop-filter globular purple spaghetti lightning ball thing.

5 Comments Don’t be that guy

  1. Trevor Owens April 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    We’ve been implementing Kanban internally and it has helped us to understand the differences between Urgent Work and Standard Work that we would otherwise think is urgent.

    Incase you haven’t seen some of Jim Benson’s stuff:


  2. giffc April 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t know Jim Benson’s stuff — will check it out.  Right now, I’m loving using Trello for bringing “kanban”-like order to things.

  3. Trevor Owens April 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Very cool. Do you use Trello as a team and for product dev? How’s it different from Pivotal Tracker? I’m trying to articulate the problem we’ve had with online tools, and I think that is that it’s hard to eliminate things when we’re not all working on the same project. Since it’s digital it makes it easy to just “store” it and forget it. We have a physical board next to our set of desks and since space is limited on it, I find myself continuously asking everyone “do we need this?”

  4. giffc April 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    So on my current project, I use Pivotal Tracker for dev user stories, and Trello for the UX/UI pipeline (although within Trello have set up a similar structure of icebox, backlog, in process, etc). I haven’t liked mixing the two together in Tracker.  I have also set up Trello boards for bizdev funnel and marketing work.

  5. Trevor Owens April 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Would love to see it sometime!

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